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Geographic Differences in the Relative Price of Healthy Foods

  • Todd, Jessica E.
  • Leibtag, Ephraim S.
  • Penberthy, Corttney

Although healthy foods can be affordable, if less healthy foods are cheaper, individuals may have an economic incentive to consume a less healthful diet. Using the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database, we explore whether a select set of healthy foods (whole grains, dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, whole fruit, skim and 1% milk, fruit juice, and bottled water) are more expensive than less healthy alternatives. We find that not all healthy foods are more expensive than less healthy alternatives; skim and 1% milk are less expensive than whole and 2% milk and bottled water is generally less expensive than carbonated nonalcoholic drinks. We also find considerable geographic variation in the relative price of healthy foods. This price variation may contribute to geographic variation in diet and health outcomes.

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Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Economic Information Bulletin with number 117976.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:uersib:117976
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  1. Guthrie, Joanne F. & Lin, Biing-Hwan & Reed, Jane & Stewart, Hayden, 2005. "Understanding Economic and Behavioral Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Choices," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, April.
  2. Todd, Jessica E. & Mancino, Lisa & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Tripodo, Christina, 2010. "Methodology Behind the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database," Technical Bulletins 97799, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  3. Chen Zhen & Justin L. Taylor & Mary K. Muth & Ephraim Leibtag, 2009. "Understanding Differences in Self-Reported Expenditures between Household Scanner Data and Diary Survey Data: A Comparison of Homescan and Consumer Expenditure Survey," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 31(3), pages 470-492, 09.
  4. Smith, Travis A. & Biing-Hwan, Lin & Lee, Jonq-Ying, 2010. "Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages: Potential Effects on Beverage Consumption, Calorie Intake, and Obesity," Economic Research Report 95465, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  5. Todd, Jessica E. & Leibtag, Ephraim S., 2010. "New Database Shows Substantial Geographic Food Price Variation," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September.
  6. Mancino, Lisa & Kuchler, Fred & Leibtag, Ephraim, 2008. "Getting consumers to eat more whole-grains: The role of policy, information, and food manufacturers," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 489-496, December.
  7. Kuchler, Fred & Stewart, Hayden, 2008. "Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods," Economic Research Report 56447, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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